The Way of Improvement Leads Home: American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic life.

The Way of Improvement Leads Home: American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic life.

A biweekly discussion dedicated to American History, historical thinking, and the role of history in our every day lives. Hosted by historian John Fea

Episodes

April 24, 2022 69 min
In this episode, our 100th, host John Fea delivers his 2022 Conference on Faith and History presidential address. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Do you do genealogical research? In this episode, historian Francesca Morgan talks about her new book A Nation of Descendants: Politics and the Practice of Genealogy in U.S. History. She discusses Americans' fascination with tracking family lineage through three centuries and how the practice has intersected with race, class, religion, and commercialism.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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What do Sammy Davis Jr., Muhammad Ali, Clare Booth Luce, Whitaker Chambers, and Charles Colson all have in common? They all had very public religious conversions. In this episode, historian Rebecca Davis joins us to talk about her new book Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed Politics.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Using America's obsession with Washington's hair as his window, historian Keith Beutler examines how "physicality," or the use of the material objects, was the most important way early Americans (1790-1840)--museum founders, African Amerians, evangelicals, and school teachers-- remembered the nation's founding. Beutler is the author of George Washington's Hair: How Early Americans Remembered the Founders (Un...
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In this episode we talk with historian Bruce Berglund about Vladmir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Our conversation focuses on Putin's use of history to justify the invasion, the insufficiency of the Russian military, the international ban on Russian athletics, and the role that race has played in the invasion.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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American universities entered the 1960s with the hope of bringing a high-quality system of universal higher education to all comers. But by the early 1970s hope turned to despair as universities gave way to neoliberalism, corporatism, and a powerful conservative backlash. In this episode we talk with historian Ellen Schrecker about her new book The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s. Learn more about your ad choices. ...
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February 6, 2022 68 min
Our guest in this episode is Gettysburg College historian Jill Ogline Titus. Her new book, Gettysburg 1963, tells the story of the centennial celebration of the Civil War in the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Through an examination of the experiences of political leaders, civil rights activists, preservation-minded Civil War enthusiasts, and residents, Titus shows how this town continues to serve as a place where Americans work-o...
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Less than a year after the American Revolution, a group of North Carolina farmers hatched a plot to assassinate the colony's leading patriots, including the governor. In this episode, Boston University historian Brendan McConville talks about the Gourd Patch Conspiracy. The catalysts of this movement were "The Brethren," a group of Protestants who were angry about Catholic and deists influences in the revolutionary Nort...
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Our guest in this episode is historian Robert Tracy McKenzie, author of We the Fallen the People: The Founders and the Future of American Democracy. In the spirit of the 20th-century theologian and ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr, McKenzie places the Christian doctrine of original sin at the center of early American political history. He believes that we must come to grips with the fact that America has not always been great or even good...
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Did Marcus Whitman "save" Oregon? In this episode we talk with Sarah Koenig, author ofProvidence and the Invention of American History. She tells the story of a Protestant missionary to the Pacific Northwest and how his story provides a window into debates over the meaning of the past in both the 19th-century and today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Charles Lindbergh was a celebrated aviator, the father of the baby abducted in the "crime of the century," a Nazi sympathizer, and a believer in eugenics. He also carried a small New Testament with him as he entered the South Pacific theatre of World War II and offered a spiritual critique of technological progress. Our guest in this episode is Christopher Gehrz, author of Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America...
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John C. Calhoun is among the most notorious and enigmatic figures in American political history. In this episode we talk with Robert Elder, author of Calhoun: American Heretic. Elder shows that Calhoun's story is crucial for understanding the political climate in which we find ourselves today. If we excise him from the mainstream of American history, he argues, we are left with a distorted understanding of our past and no way t...
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In this episode we talk with Nathan McAlister, Humanities Program Manager at the Kansas State Department of Education in Topeka. When it comes to history education, Kansas is doing it the right way. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion on civics, historical thinking, social studies standards, and the controversial debates over race in the American history classroom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoi...
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In her new book Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History, historian Katherine Carte offers a major reassessment of the relationship between Christianity and the American Revolution. She argues that religion helped set the terms by which Anglo-Americans encountered the imperial crisis and the war and how Protestants on both sides of the Atlantic imagined the possibilities of a post-revolutionary world. Learn more ab...
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In this episode we introduce Current, a new online platform of commentary and opinion that provides daily reflection on contemporary culture, politics, and ideas. Editor Eric Miller talks aboutCurrent's vision, some of his favorite articles, and the history of the "little magazine" in American literary culture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Historian Karen Cox argues that "when it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground." In this episode, we talk with Cox about the history of Confederate monuments and how the recent racial unrest in the United States have made these monuments a subject of national conversation. Her book is titled No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice. Learn more about your ad choices...
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What can a medieval historian teach us about the role of women in twenty-first century evangelicalism? A lot! In this episode we talk to historian Beth Allison Barr about her book The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth. Join us for a wide-ranging conversation on historical thinking, biblical interpretation, the Protestant Reformation, the Southern Baptist Church, and the English Standard ...
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In this episode we talk with Carolyn Eastman, author of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity. Eastman chronicles the life of James Ogilvie, an itinerant orator who became one of the most famous men in America in the years between 1809 and 1817. Ogilvie's career features many of the hallmarks of celebrity we recognize from later eras: glamorous friends, eccentric clothing, sc...
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Ice hockey is now a global sport. Even Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, and Australia have national teams. The National Hockey League has teams in Miami, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Nashville, and Phoenix. Junior league hockey is played in Shreveport and Amarillo. Anyone who wants to understand hockey today must not only tell a story about skates, rinks, sticks and goals, but must also tell a story about television, marketing, suburbia, social welf...
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January 31, 2021 78 min
On June 1, 2020, Donald Trump declared himself a "law and order" president and marched to historic St. John's Church for a photo-op with a Bible. Our guest in this episode, historian Aaron Griffith, helps us understand why evangelicals cheered this moment. Join us for a conversation on evangelicalism, crime, and mass incarceration with the author of the fascinating new book, God's Law and Order: The Politics of Puni...
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